NASA Wants to Come Up With New Clock for Moon, Where Seconds Tick Away Faster

WASHINGTON—NASA wants to come up with an out-of-this-world way to keep track of time, putting the moon on its own souped-up clock.

It’s not quite a time zone like those on Earth, but an entire frame of time reference for the moon. Time there moves a tad quicker—58.7 microseconds every day—compared to Earth. So the White House Tuesday instructed NASA and other U.S agencies to work with international agencies to come up with a new moon-centric time reference system.

“An atomic clock on the moon will tick at a different rate than a clock on Earth,” said Kevin Coggins, NASA’s top communications and navigation official. “It makes sense that when you go to another body, like the moon or Mars that each one gets its own heartbeat.”

So everything on the moon will operate on the speeded-up moon time, Mr. Coggins said.

The last time NASA sent astronauts to the moon they wore watches, but timing wasn’t as precise and critical as it now with GPS, satellites, and intricate computer and communications systems, he said. Those microseconds matter when high-tech systems interact, he said.

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